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New manager’s guide for the inventory check


Have you ever taken over a completely new team? Have you ever had a hard time in finding out what your team has to offer? Well…. in this blog I am going to talk about how to assess your team’s inventory as a new Manager.

Human capital: Most of the new managers always start their inventory count by assessing their tangible items first. For example: computers, machine parts, etc. I would definitely recommend against it. As a new manager and a new member of the team, one should  familiarize himself with all the team members in the group. You should identify their job description, skill sets, work history, recent projects, and major accomplishments. Find out under what circumstances your team will be given access to any additional human resources, such as outside contractors or assistance from other teams. Find out under what circumstances human resources will be drawn away from your group or reassigned to other teams.

Raw materials and office supply: Once you are done with all the human resource information, you should start assessing all the tangible items available to you. For example: computers, furniture, special equipment, office supplies, work space, hardware, software, etc. You should also identify finished products on hand, and try to get estimated values of those products (if possible). While you are going through the process, it would be nice if you can identify future inventory requirements for your current projects. This will not only help you in better forecasting your inventory needs, but it will also give you an idea of how efficiently your raw materials are used.

Shared inventory: Most of the managers fail to count their shared inventory during this process. I would recommend not to do that. Try to determine if there are any other managers who have ownership over any parts of your team’s current projects. If there are, then you can introduce yourself to these managers so that you can begin to develop good working relationships with them. Ask these other managers to explain how your roles intersect and overlap; ask them to describe what they expect you to do (and not do).

Future supply: Once you are done assessing existing supply, you need to identify any new initiatives that your team has planned for the future. What does your team plan to focus on? When do they plan to begin these new initiatives, and when do they hope to finish them? What business need are they trying to serve? Etc. This will not only help you to better predict your future inventory needs, but it will also help you to determine a roadmap for your team.

How would you access your inventory, if you took over a completely new team?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to fire someone without getting sued?


Have you ever fired someone? Were you ever in the situation where your employee’s growth was stagnant, and there were no other options other than firing that employee? Well……trust me, this situation arises more often than you would think. So, what would you do in this situation? Let’s say, you went ahead and got rid of the poor performing employee without any prep work. In that case, you might end up like my friend Naveen (changing the name for protecting privacy). Naveen fired his poor performer few months back, and now he is getting sued for ‘retaliation’. Obviously, this kind of examples should not become a roadblock in your job while performing your duties. Thus, I am providing you few tips through which you can fire someone without having the major risk of getting sued.

Give one more chance: Imagine….if you were the employee, who is on the line and about to get fired. Obviously, you don’t want to be in the situation where you think that you are a peek performer and your manager hands you a memo saying… “You are fired”. Thus, I always recommend managers to treat their employees as they would like to be treated. Hence, make sure to give your employee the last fair chance to improve his performance. Don’t just have verbal talks with him, make sure to document this and forward it to HR to put on his file. This will provide your employees with one last chance of improving their performance, while it will provide you with a supporting document, if you ever get prosecuted.

Work by the book: Before you take any drastic steps like this, make sure to read all the HR specific and company specific guidelines. If I were you, I would talk to my HR business partner or company’s attorney before even thinking about this. And before even talking to your HR personnel, I would recommend you to prepare a file which should contain all the documentations showing that you have had communications with your employees regarding this problem (i.e. e-mails, memo, etc.). When you have this discussion with your HR personnel, don’t forget to talk about all the minute details of your employees like his race, gender, recent leaves, etc. I have seen various situations, where employees have sued their employer for firing decision on the basis of their race or gender, and the firing decision didn’t have anything to do with that. Thus, it is better to disclose all the facts with your company’s attorney beforehand.

Have a crime buddy: By ‘crime buddy’ I meant to say, someone who knows the same information as you. In most of the situations, I would recommend you to include your immediate manager or the HR business partner. This practice will make sure that someone will back you up, if there are any legal proceedings in the future. Most of the managers know this fact, but don’t know how to implement this. Here is one tip….have a lunch with your immediate manager, discuss about this issue during the lunch, and then forward all the current documentation to him/her. This will ensure that you are not the only person accountable for this decision.

I hope these tips will help you in the unfortunate situation of firing someone. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can save yourself after firing someone for their poor performance. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 3)


SelfAssessmentOnce you are done training your new hire on the workings of your team and the organization (see my previous blogs), you can then go ahead and talk to her about her development within your organization. This will not only help you to develop some strong relationship with your employees but also motivate her by demonstrating that the company is willing to invest in her future. In this blog, I will provide you with some practical tips through which you can motivate your new hire.

Motivation: It is very essential for you as a manager to discuss what are meaningful motivators for your employees. Make sure that your new hire knows about your existing employee’s values and energizing criteria. You should also explain her the potential financial incentives (i.e., cash sharing, bonuses). Describe the potential opportunities for advancement with the team, department or company, and how she can advance herself to achieve those motivators. Don’t just train her theoretically on how we will measure her accomplishments, but provide some specific examples of her probable accomplishments. For example: You will work on this software development project, and your achievements will be measured against the total time and budget required to finish this project. This will give her a clear picture of how your team recognizes accomplishments. She can then work towards achieving those goals, and making your team successful in the process of doing that.

Learning & Development: No one wants stagnant employees, who can’t grow with the organization. Thus, every new hire should be explained their growth options by their managers. As a manager, you should always inform your employees about the path to succeed. You should not only explain them what is expected from them to advance their career in your organization, but you should also talk about opportunities to participate in associations, professional organizations or networking groups through which they can succeed. You can go one step further by finding out how your employee likes to learn (seeing, listening, doing), and then exploring what skills and abilities your employees seek to develop in order to perform the job more effectively. You can also take this opportunity to discuss how your employees can prepare for future responsibilities, and what type of developmental opportunities are available.

I hope these tips will help you to become a better manager by providing a clear direction for your newly hired employee. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can help your employees to easily transition to your company. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 2)


classic-booksIn my last blog post, I have discussed few ways through which you can make your new hire understand your company’s goals and objectives. In this blog, I will provide you some tips on how you can make your new hire acquainted to your team culture and communication channels.

Talk about the rules: After you have explained your strategic objectives and work culture, now it’s time for you to explain her about your expectations. Some of the managers leave it unsaid. But I prefer to talk to all of my employees about the performance expectations. In this way, they can specifically know what they have signed up for, and you can avoid having performance improvement talks later. You can start this conversation by establishing clear goals and priorities for her; and then you can progress towards expected employee’s behavior, your feedback process, and how her work will be evaluated. Don’t forget to outline the path through which you will help her to be successful.

The Team: Providing an understanding of the team’s roles and responsibilities is very key to the new hire’s success. This will make sure that she doesn’t step on someone’s foot, and she can know who is ultimately responsible and who has the decision making authority. During this discussion, you should explain her how your team supports company’s goals and objectives. This will give her the overall picture of your team, and where it fits in to the organization. And yeah! Don’t forget to discuss the procedures & norms under which your team operates. For example: Our team follows an agile development process, where each engineer is paired with one another team member for the development of a particular feature. Last but not the least, identify the people who can help her during her first few months in the company, and how they prefer to communicate.

Communication: Being a software development manager for years, I have seen various managers failed to provide this information to their employees. As a result, you have a new geeky employee who got herself acquainted to only e-mails, and you have to wait for her e-mail response for feedback. Thus, I would advise you to have these conversations beforehand. Convey to your new employee how you would prefer to be communicated, and what should be the frequency of those communications. For example: I expect an e-mail response within 1-2 hours. In case of a blocking issue, I want you to call me up instead of waiting for me to reply to your e-mail. And yeah! Explain how your employees prefer to communicate with themselves.

I hope these tips will help you to become a better manager by providing a clear direction for your newly hired employee. In the next blog post, I will be discussing about how to familiarize your new hire with the growth opportunities within your organization.

Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can help your employees to easily transition to your company. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 1)


I have written numerous blogs about how to familiarize yourself with your new job, but I have never focused on writing the other side of the story. In this blog series, I will provide some guidelines which can help you to conduct useful conversations with your new employees during the onboarding process. I hope that you can create a positive onboarding experience for your employees through these tips.

Talk about strategic objectives: Obviously, you need to have several conversations between you and the new employee over first 6-7 months, but make sure to make the strategic objectives as your primary conversation topic. This will not only make her understand the relationship between her tasks and the objectives of your company, but it will help you to make her understand the overall picture. You can start this discussion by talking about the company’s vision and strategy; and then you can progress towards explaining her the company’s goals, priorities and business initiatives. During this discussion, you should always ensure that you try to connect company’s goals and your team’s goals with her day-to-day activities. This practice will help you in making her an autonomous resource of your team, who can connect the dots by herself.

Talk about the culture: I have seen various managers, who fails to explain the existing culture of their company to a new hire. They think that the new hire will catch up on the company’s culture with time. While this perception has some credibility, I would advise not to do that. If you would have explained the company’s culture to the new hire during the onboarding process, then it will make her transition easier and smooth, while you can benefit from her understanding of the existing culture. You can initiate this conversation by describing her the culture of the company including company’s norms, beliefs, values, traditions, symbols, etc. For example: our working hours are 8-5pm, and all the employees are supposed to be present on the company premises between our core hours – 9am to 4pm.

I hope these tips will help you to become a better manager by providing a clear direction for your newly hired employee. In the next blog post, I will be discussing about how to familiarize your new hire with the rules of your team.

Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can help your employees to easily transition to your company. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to deal with a poor performer in your team?


Have you ever encountered a situation where you had to have a difficult conversation with your employees? Or have you ever put any employee on a Performance Improvement plan? It is very unfortunate that some of the Managers try to avoid those situations. Instead of having appropriate conversation with their employees, they try to avoid those situations. Well, I am not a master of these conversations by any means, but I have few tips through which you can handle this situation well.

Verbal discussion: Let say, you have a poor performer in your team. And despite of your numerous efforts to improve his performance, he didn’t improve. In this situation, I would advise you to have a personal discussion with him, if you haven’t done that already. This one-on-one discussion will give you an opportunity to explain your concern about his performance, while it will give him an opportunity to explain his side of the story. The purpose of this meeting should be to let him know about your concerns, so that he can correct those behaviors.

Document your concerns: After you had your verbal discussion, you should always make sure to document those communications via e-mails or memos. This will help you not only in any legal proceedings that might arise in the future but it will also help you to reiterate your point. Your e-mail should contain summary of your discussion reinforcing your message and the place where this discussion took place. It’s a good idea to let the employee know that they will be receiving a follow up email after the meeting. Explain that it is to ensure each party is on the same page regarding discussion points. This can circumvent the perception that you are using the email for “tracking” purposes only.

Follow-up discussion: You should never have a discussion with someone, and then not follow up with that. I would advise you to schedule a follow-up meeting regarding your verbal discussion as soon as you send the follow-up e-mail. Of course this meeting might not happen within 1-2 months, but it’s always a good practice to keep a checkpoint on these kind of discussions to make sure that you don’t forget it. And yeah! Make sure to have a specific agenda for this meeting. For example: specific projects that he might be working on, his performance improvement within last month, action plan to success, time frame for improvement, etc. Don’t forget to include all the consequences clearly and visibly in this meeting request. This will ensure that your employee is aware of all the consequences before you decide to take any action.

I hope these tips will help to become a better manager and effectively deal with your poor performers. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can effectively deal with your poor performing employee. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Are you working for a bad Boss? Here are few tips to deal with the situation


Have you been in a situation where your Boss takes all the credit of your work and makes you responsible for his mistakes? Does your Boss never listen to you, or at least you feel he doesn’t? I am sure that 10-20% of my readers must have been through these situations at least once. Though I might not have a magical solution to correct this problem, I can recommend few steps through which you can get yourself out of these situations.

Do self-assessment first: I am a huge believer of second chances. Thus, I would recommend you to self-assess yourself before blaming your Boss. I am not saying that you are a cry baby, and you have a problem of crying no matter what your Boss does for you. Sometimes there is a perception difference between how you see things and how your Boss sees the same thing. Thus, before taking any action, you want to get rid of these variables. You can do this assessment by observing your Boss’s behavior towards other colleagues. You can also ask your colleagues about your behavior, and your Boss’s behavior towards you. This will give you some good insight on identifying the exact problem.

Move-on but document: Let’s say, you found out through your self-assessment process that your Boss is being unreasonable to you. In that case, you can still have a fresh start. It’s never too late to forgive someone. Try forgiving your Boss for his past behavior, and try to have a fresh start. But this time, take the ball in your hand. Take initiatives to objectify your goals and document your achievements. For example: If you are working on a project, and you got praised by your colleague or your customer, then keep those documents aside in one file. This kind of information, justifying your achievements, will help you when you want to confront your Boss about your progress.

Have a friend in upper management: I am not intending to bribe anyone or going out of your way to please someone. I am just saying that you should keep good relationships with your Boss’s Boss. If you don’t know how to initiate or cultivate these relationships then I have one advice for you – “Lunch”. I would recommend you to invite your Boss’s Boss for a lunch. This will give you an informal setting, where you can discuss your issues with him. Once you feel comfortable enough with this relationship, you can e-mail him about your achievements in a monthly e-mail. This practice will give you some visibility to upper management, and in case of issues with your immediate Boss, you can ask for help from Boss’s Boss.

Quit your job: After you have exhausted all of your options, and they don’t seem to be working, then you should think of getting an another job. You don’t want to be stuck in a job, where you don’t find any opportunity of growth. But don’t quit your job right away. Be patient and keep working hard, until you find a reasonably good offer. In the meanwhile, you should start collecting references and recommendation letters from your colleagues, customers, and old Bosses. Make sure to document all of your achievements and interesting projects for your job search. And yeah! Don’t do the same mistake again. Try to find a new job, where you can produce measurable results, and your performance depends on your deliverables, and not on your Boss’s perception of you.

I hope these tips will give you some idea about how to deal with a bad boss. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can work at a workplace where your Manager doesn’t value you that much. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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